Ever since they were youngsters, playing recreation football in North Arlington, Petey Guerriero and Brian Kearns were inseparable.
“We’ve been the best of friends since we were three years old,” Kearns said of Guerriero. “We played all sports together.”
But they were separated in high school with Kearns going to Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey and Guerriero becoming a star at Lyndhurst High. Kearns went on to have a great career at Stonehill University and Guerriero going on to lead the nation in rushing at Monmouth University.
Through it all, the two have been workout partners, spending a lot of their athletic training time at FASST in Lyndhurst. But both always had dreams of becoming professional football players. Guerriero had brief stops in the camps of the New York Jets, the Carolina Panthers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kearns just recently graduated from Stonehill with a degree in business management.
And now, the two are working out with the hopes of becoming some of the players selected to play in the rebirth of the United States Football League that will hold a 2022 schedule beginning in April with all of the games slated to be played in Birmingham, Alabama.
Both Guerriero and Kearns are extremely hopeful that they will be among the 200 or so players signed to contracts to play in the USFL, which will field teams with the same names that the USFL had during its first run more than 30 years ago.
Yes, there will be a team called the New Jersey Generals, but the games will all be played in Birmingham. There will be teams named the Houston Gamblers, Chicago Blitz, Los Angeles Express and the Tampa Bay Bandits.
It’s a little strange how this league will operate with no hometown fans, but it’s going to happen and the two local products – Kearns from North Arlington, Guerriero from Lyndhurst – hope to be a part of it.
“It’s just another opportunity for me,” Guerriero said. “I’m just getting ready for the draft (Feb. 22 and 23). I would like to think that I’ll be one of the more sought-after running backs. I had some doubts that I’d get another chance, but if this is my opportunity (to get back to the NFL), then I’m taking it. I’m grateful to have another chance.”
Guerriero said that he had a tryout with the Chicago Bears about six weeks ago and was told by the Bears’ officials that he would have been the first one they signed if David Montgomery had not recovered from his injuries.
“That gave me a lot of confidence that I still had it in me,” Guerriero said.
Guerriero said that the NFLPA (the players’ union) reached out to him to see if he would be interested in playing in the USFL.
“I knew that if I was going to do that, then I was going to be the best running back in the USFL,” Guerriero said. “I want to leave no doubt that I can play pro football. If I’m getting another opportunity, then I’m going to run with it.”
Guerriero said that he really didn’t give up on his dream, but there were fleeting thoughts of getting on with the rest of his life.
“It’s hard to say that I was going to give up on my goal, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say the thoughts crept into my mind,” Guerriero said. “It took me a while to get back into the groove. That Bears workout did wonders for me. I went into that workout unsure, but now I know. I’m in much better shape now.”
Guerriero said he’s been diligent with his workout regimen.
“I’ve been going twice a day,” Guerriero said. “I want to make sure that I’m treating my body the right way. I really feel like I’m blessed. I’m definitely ready for the challenge.”
Guerriero said that he learned a lot from legendary Frank Gore during his stint with the Jets and Christian McCaffrey during his days with the Panthers.
“I took everything I could from those guys,” Guerriero said. “I learned from the best. I do everything with a purpose now.”
Over the last few months, Guerriero spent his free time working with the Lyndhurst High football team. He doesn’t know if coaching is in his future, because he still has playing in his heart.
His buddy Kearns feels the same way.
“I feel the best I’ve felt in a long while,” said Kearns, who has recovered fully from ACL knee surgery two years ago. “There’s no issue at all with the ACL. I feel like I’m totally healthy.”
And Kearns and Guerriero work out together regularly with the hope of getting the call from a USFL team in three weeks.
Lyndhurst native Petey Guerriero, shown here during his days leading the nation in rushing at Monmouth University, is looking forward to the United States Football League draft that will be held later this month. Photo courtesy of Monmouth sports information.
North Arlington native Brian Kearns recently graduated from Stonehill University, where he was a standout running back. Kearns is also looking for a shot with the USFL. Photo courtesy of Stonehill athletic communications
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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer
Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.
It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.
In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.
In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.
He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.
During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.
Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.
Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”